Monday 14 October 2019

Ergo: Kerryman Looney will have to fly the green flag at BP

Andrew Keating, chief financial officer of Bank of Ireland; Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30pc Club; and Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of Bank of Ireland
Andrew Keating, chief financial officer of Bank of Ireland; Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30pc Club; and Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of Bank of Ireland

When Kerryman Bernard Looney becomes the new CEO of oil and gas giant BP next February (as was hotly tipped in these pages last year), he will face perhaps unprecedented challenges.

The sometime protégé of the late Peter Sutherland will need all of his poise and diplomacy, and more, to navigate the demands of shareholders, governments, and increasingly vociferous climate change activists.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

Just last week, the Royal Shakespeare Company ended a sponsorship deal with the firm four years early, aligning with artists who demanded similar moves by London galleries during the summer, as Greta Thunberg, and concerns about cities' air quality, dominate the headlines.

Industry observers expect BP to sell off some of its oil interests, in a bid to balance the needs of shareholders, but also take positive action at a firm that was ranked in 2017 as the world's 11th-biggest polluter.

Looney suggested in these pages in July that offshore gas exploration should continue in Ireland, and he may increase BP's global gas investments, which pollute less.

But the 'greening' of the firm will continue only slowly, rather than meaningfully, without more radical moves. The pace may not be unlike trying to turn an oil tanker.

Of course, the appointment of a son of Kerry farmers did emphasise the 'greening' - in another sense - of giant British businesses: a Corkman, Ken Murphy, is to become Tesco's new CEO.

Bank of Ireland award to mark inclusion and diversity

A gold sovereign holds some symbolism for Bank of Ireland. In the past, employees getting married were sometimes gifted a sovereign to mark the important occasion.

However, for women tying the knot during the 'marriage bar', introduced in 1932 and abolished in 1973, this also signalled the end of their professional career.

Now, the bank has officially launched a new Gold Sovereign Award for leaders and organisations that are active in the areas of inclusion and diversity.

Recipients will be identified each quarter by a group of senior business leaders led by Carol Andrews of BNY Mellon, the 30pc Club and Balance for Better Business. In recent times, the sovereign has been awarded to a number of individuals on an ad hoc basis, but the scheme is now on a formal footing.

Niamh Kennedy, who has just been made partner at mid-sized law firm Denis McSweeney Solicitors, says clients are increasingly seeking advice on employment law, given recent headlines on the gender pay gap and equal opportunities. “Clients are asking our advice in relation to these issues and how they can put in place policies for both their employees and to protect their company’s reputation,” she said. The firm practises what it preaches — 10 of the 14 practising solicitors are women and a pay gap is out of the question, according to Kennedy.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business